Elzhi (Slum Village) conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  

Slum Village: Cooking Up A Classic

August 2005

Slum Village has been the Destiny's Child of the rap game. With Jay-Dee and Baatin leaving the group and Elzhi coming in, it has taken some time for Slum Village to adjust to all the changes. However, the group finally seems settled and according to Elzhi, Slum is about to drop a certified Hip Hop classic later this year. T3 and Elzhi's recently released mixtape album, A Prequel To A Classic, is set to get you ready for what's to come. Elzhi discussed the new mixtape as well as the future of Slum Village with MVRemix in an interview that should have every Slum Village fan jumping for joy.

MVRemix: Everybody knows the story of Slum Village and the things the group has went through over the years, so we won't Elzhi Slum Village Interviewget into all of that. But to start, you have the new mixtape coming out Prequel To A Classic. Tell us about the album and what people can expect from it?

Elzhi: Basically, Prequel To A Classic is a mixtape featuring a collection of songs we have done over the years. Songs that we weren't able to put out because of certain situations, as far as not fitting in the mainstream standards. So its classic songs we put on the backburner, and we felt like we should put these songs out before we put out this classic album. Because Slum has walked a tight rope with mainstream Hip Hop on the last album and on Trinity. That is when Jay-Dee left and we got new producers, plus they brought me into the group. This new album we are working on is a real representation of what Slum Village is today. Prequel To A Classic is just to prepare people for this classic album.

MVRemix: You said you guys were walking the line with the mainstream on the last two albums. So were you happy on how they came out?

Elzhi: During that time that was where our minds were at. We were at Capitol Records and they are a label that is looking for mainstream pop acts. They want to make money, so for Slum Village, we were trying to find a way to do what we do and at the same time give Capital what they want. But now we are not on Capital and this is strictly Barak Records. So we get to do exactly what we want to do and that is to bring the fans feel good music without walking the tightrope. Give people that unsaturated Hip Hop reminiscent of when it was live back in the day, like in '93.

MVRemix: You guys gave Capital two big singles on each album, but you never really got a follow up. Why was that?

Elzhi: I don't know, there could have been a lot of reasons. We could have been a tax write off. Or they could have pulled out last minute to give us money to do a follow up because they felt that they had other artists they had to focus on. It could have been numerous amount of things. But its going to be a little bit different this time. We are going to make sure we shoot two videos at the same time. We are going to make sure we have the follow up single decided before the first one even drops. We are learning from the mistakes we made in the past so we don't repeat them.

MVRemix: I noticed that groups like you, The Roots and Dilated Peoples only get one video and single. But do you think that has to do with you being labeled as a so called "underground" group?

Elzhi: Maybe that's what it is. Maybe they are like, "Ok, we are only going to put this amount of money into these acts because they are not representing the crunk movement or what's going on in the mainstream." So maybe that's what is. But I'm just speaking for me and not T3, I could care less about the mainstream - bottom line. I care for the people in the mainstream who may want to listen to a Slum Village album and may end up becoming a fan, that is cool too. But if they don't, I don't care either way. As long as my fans are feeling what we are doing, and the fans that have been around since Fantastic Vol. 2, and the fans that we may have lost along the way - as long as they love what we do - its all good. But really, I don't care about the mainstream. Our stuff can be on there and people can like it too, and that would be a blessing. But if they don't, I'm not going to loose sleep over it. But maybe you are right - they look at the labels like, "Oh, these cats just want to do underground music." But I could care less, its all about the real fans.

MVRemix: In regards to the mixtape, what types of songs, issues, and topics are you guys dealing with on the album?

Elzhi: The mixtape is basically just a collection of songs done before I got in the group, while I was in the group, when Dilla and Baatin left the group, when it was just T3 and Baatin - so there are a lot of different eras on the album. But we have a song called "My Life," where we talk about how we just hang out and kick it. We got a remix to "We Be Them," with Baatin, T3 and me. And its basically saying, "We be them niggas. This is how we do our thing." We just have so many joints on there. "Get Your Paper" is about getting out and doing what you love to do, while at the same time getting paid for it. The ultimate happiness in life is doing what you love in life. So we got concepts on the joint, but once again, its not an album, it's a mixtape. On the album, we are going to have solid concepts, but the album is really a conceptual piece. The mixtape is just putting songs together that sound good. Its ear candy so people will get hungry for more material in the future.

MVRemix: And with the next Slum Village album, when should we see that?

Elzhi: It should be out sometime this year. We are still working on it now and we don't have a title yet. But we have gotten the people that we wanted on the album so far, as far as all the guest appearances. But we are still trying to get clearances from them and for all the samples. But it should be out later this year.

MVRemix: How is this album going to differ from everything else Slum Village has done?

Elzhi: For one, when Slum Village first came in the game it was all about style. It was being apart of the beat, which your vocals were apart of the instruments. Basically, they were trying to blend in with the instruments and become one with the music. Along the way, they got criticized for not being lyrical and basically being all over the place. This album right here is going to clear up everything that the critics had to say. The album is not all over the place and its definitely a classic. Its going to be a classic. And lyrically, it's a step up. On the Trinity album, there really wasn't any chemistry due to me just coming into the group. At that time I was just T3's artist and he wanted to put me on a few songs. It was just me trying to show my abilities. But after awhile they brought me into the group and I carried on with that tradition. So for this new album, there is a lot more chemistry. And on the previous albums, T3 has always stepped up on the lyrical tip. But this time, I think he is going to shock a lot of people. Also, with this album I am not really holding back in the Slum Village world. Because me doing a solo project and a Slum Village album is two totally different things. I'm a different writer and I have a different vision of what Slum Village is because I was my own emcee before I stepped into Slum. But as far as the Slum Village world, I am not holding back in that world and you are going to hear that as well. So the concepts are a lot more, and they are fun concepts. But we also got serious concepts and girl songs. Plus, this album is a little more stylish as well. But the main thing I love about this album is it feels good all the way through, and the lyrical content is eons better than the last album. So its definitely a step up from Detroit Deli and hopefully when we get all these people we want on the album, and I'm not going to say any names, then we can start putting the finishing touches on the album and ship it out to y'all.

MVRemix: I recently read an interview with T3 and he said that everyone (Dilla & Baatin) is going to reunite again for a Slum Village album in the future. Is that true?

Elzhi: Yeah, it is, but I can't tell you when until everybody's head and heart is in the right place. But as well as things are going for Slum Village, Jay-Dee is doing his thing too. He is in the studio with D'Angelo right now and is doing his thing. Baatin got his solo album coming out. So everybody got their own thing going on, but we are trying to sit down and do this Four Horsemen project. We are also working on a Slum Village movie, and if it was a perfect world and it was up to me, the soundtrack to the movie would actually be the Four Horsemen album. That is how I want to do it, but its not a perfect world, so I can't really tell you when its going down. But I can tell you when the time is right it will go down. Everybody wants to do it, but everybody is busy at the moment.

MVRemix: You got some nice buzz from the Witness My Growth Mixtape, when will we see your solo album?

Elzhi: When Slum Village regains all the fans that left and when we make all the Slum Village fans down since day one extremely happy. Once we get that stamp of approval in the streets, then I'm able to do my album. Because if it wasn't for T3, I wouldn't have a voice in the game as soon as I did. If it wasn't for T3 and Barak, I wouldn't have been able to see the things that I saw. Whoever is feeling me, that's what's up, and that's a blessing. But I can't jump ship until I know my peoples are straight. But hopefully this is the album where I will be able to be like, 'Ok, now its time for me to do my solo project.' Because I'm working on it and I got at least seven songs done right now. But I can't do nothing with it right now until Slum is tight.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Elzhi: Prequel To A Classic will be out July 12, and the new album is coming out later this year. T3's mixtape album The Olio is also coming out, and my double disc mixtape Witness My Growth is already out. And no disrespect to the cats out there trying to get their dollars in this game, but this music means a lot more than getting dollars to us. Music is the soundtracks to everybody's lives and we just want to play our part. We want to make y'all feel good, think, party and chill out. So Slum Village is just going to continue doing Slum and we are doing it even better than before. It's never going to stop.

Related content:
  • Slum Village - Fantastic Volume II review by Philip Oliver
  • Slum Village - Dirty District review by Todd E. Jones
  • Slum Village - Trinity review by Todd E. Jones
  • Elzhi (Slum Village) 2002 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Baatin (Slum Village) 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Elzhi (Slum Village) 2004 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Elzhi (Slum Village) 2004 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Slum Village - Detroit Deli review by Brainiac
  • Slum Village - Detroit Deli review by NewJeruPoet
  • Dwele 2003 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Dwele 2005 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Elzhi (Slum Village) 2005 Interview by James Johnson
  • Black Milk 2007 Interview by Todd E. Jones

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